read Owen Jones, Israel and Numberwang

The anti-santa and the children of the universe.

It was a cold and wet December day when the spacetime-traveller decided to take Bob along to meet the spacetime-traveller's good friend the anti-santa.

"The anti-santa is a much maligned bloke," the spacetime-traveller told Bob. "He helps a lot of people.

"Numerous corporations have, however," he went on, "for reasons which will become clear to you, put a lot of effort into trying to smear him and convince little children that the anti-santa will break into their homes on Christmas Eve and steal all their most prized possessions."

Presently they arrived, via spacetime-travelling sofa, at a shopping mall in one or other variation in spacetime of North America. On one side of a big foyer there was a long queue (or "line", as the Americans themselves call queues) of children and their parent or guardian. Many of them had shopping bags with them and all of them were tired and seemed dissatisfied. There was far more that they wanted than they were going to ever have.

"Watch them as they leave," the spacetime-traveller said to Bob. Bob examined a child who had just come away from seeing the anti-santa, whom they were all queueing up to see. He was bright and energetic, he seemed to have a glow about him, a sense of purpose and joy.

"Come on," said the spacetime-traveller to Bob. Let's take a closer look. Soon they were behind the scenes at the grotto of the anti-santa, whose elfin assistant awaited the anti-santa's instruction to bring him the next child.

"Anti-santa!" said the spacetime-traveller.

"Spacetime-traveller!" replied the anti-santa. "Good to see you."

"Here's your latest productivity report."

He handed the anti-santa a file.

"It's a summary," he explained to Bob, "of what happens to all the kids the anti-santa has met - I go to other parts of spacetime to see what the end result is and compile it in this file so that the anti-santa can be one step ahead of doing his job well."

"He probably hasn't even told you what job I do. Not properly, anyway, has he?" the anti-santa said to Bob.

"No indeed," Bob agreed.

"Well come and watch me deal with the next child and you'll understand. Go on. Both of you hide behind those anti-reindeer facsimiles and you can see the anti-santa at work."

Bob and the spacetime-traveller concealed themselves and the elfin assistant brought in the next child.

The anti-santa, during a brief interview with the child, was able to ascertain everything which was causing the child dissatisfaction and was able to convey to the child the joy of not needing many or most of the things which only somewhat mindless adults had, at great expense to themselves, convinced the child that it needed for some reason it couldn't even explain when pushed. Children being fairly intelligent, and this one a reasonable specimen, the child was beaming at the end of this revelation, realising that it already had all that it ever needed and could be glad and free and could ignore the insane adults.

Bob and the spacetime-traveller returned via the sofa to Bob's own place and time.